#FridayReads 2023-02-17 – ‘Kaiju Preservation Society’, ‘Shifty’s Boys’ and ‘Crushed’

This week, I’m revisiting two authors that I know that I will enjoy and taking up a recommendation from my wife. That gives me an eclectic list of genres and locations with a Science Fiction novel partly set in an alternative earth, a crime novel set in the Kentucky hills and a psychological thriller set in Bath.

I’m expecting to be making excuses to step away from real life and dive back into these books all week.

‘Kaiju Preservation Society’ by John Scalzi (2022)

John Scalzi is a writer I have to be in the right mood for. I enjoy his humour and his absurd juxtapositions that squeeze science fiction tropes until they beg for mercy but I prefer it when he maps all the consequences that ripple out from dropping one small pebble of change into the world we take for granted.

I read his debut novel ‘Old Man’s War’ (2005) seven years ago. It made me smile and I could see that it was part homage and part riposte to Heinlein’s style of Science Fiction. I liked the ‘Cocoon’ meets ‘Full Metal Jacket’ feel of it but the war scenes didn’t call to me. I left the rest of the series unread.

A couple of years later, I downloaded his novella, ‘The Dispatcher’ (2016) on a whim and became hooked first on the idea and then, as he produced ‘Murder By Other Means’ (2020) and ‘Travel By Bullet‘ (2022), became engaged with the main character.

So, I’m trying ‘Kaiju Preservation Society’ in the hope that it will be intriguing as well as humorous and have a least one character that I can cheer for.

‘Shifty’s Boys’ by Chris Offutt (2022)

I’ve only recently discovered Chris Offutt. His first Mick Hardin book ‘The Killing Hills’ was an entertaining read that took me deep into the world of the folks who live in the Kentucky hills. I ended the book hungry for more and was glad to see that the second book, ‘Shifty’s Boys’ has already been published and that the third book, ‘Code Of The Hills’ is expected to be published in June.

We met Shifty and her sons in the first book. She was a strong, dangerous woman and her sons weren’t men who would immediately win a reader’s sympathy. I’m interested to see how Mick Hardin ends up back in his home hills, why he chooses to help Shifty and what kind of a mess of secrets, obligations, and misdeeds he’ll uncover.

‘Crushed’ by Kate Hamer (2019)

I’ve never read Kate Hamer. When my wife mentioned her to me, I recognised the name but it wasn’t until I checked my LibraryThing that I realised that I’d bought her debut novel, ‘The Girl In The Red Coat’ back in 2016 and then left it to gather virtual dust on my TBR pile.

My wife came across ‘Crushed‘ in our local library and decided to give it a try. I’d probably have passed on it. The combination of the phrases ‘Psychological Thriller’ and ‘Coming Of Age’ is normally enough to prompt me to move on but my wife thought that the girls were well-written and the story stood up and then there’s the novelty have having the story set in our home town of Bath, so I picked up a copy.

I’m looking forward to immersing myself in the book and being able to share my reactions with my wife as I go along.

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